too many words by laura lemay


We’ve lived in this house for close to seven years now, and the peach tree in the garden has always been a huge disappointment. I’ve pruned it, and watered it, and sprayed it with goo to keep it from getting a horrid fungal disease that makes its leaves wither up and die (it usually still gets the fungus). I’ve weeded around its base and kept the deer from munching on its tips. And for all my care all I’ve gotten is a half dozen tiny shriveled up peaches. Most years I get nothing; the birds get any peaches that appear before they get ripe enough to eat. The garden also has cherry trees and an apricot and I get fruit from them but the peach tree, obstinately, holds out and refuses to give me anything.

I was all set this year to cut the damn peach tree down. The garden is only so large and I could use the space to grow something more reliable, like tomatoes. I’m good at tomatoes. But, like a lot of things, I didn’t get around to it. This year I didn’t prune it and I didn’t spray it and I didn’t water it. Screw the peach tree, its not like it ever does anything anyhow.

Over the last week I have harvested thirty pounds of peaches. For reasons I do not understand the tree didn’t get the leaf fungus this year and it bore so many peaches the branches were weighed all the way down to the ground. More than half the peaches on the tree were eaten or just pecked at by the birds but I still have more peaches than I know what to do with. I’ve made peach pies and peach filling and I still have too many peaches left.

Lots of peaches I just ate right off the tree. A ripe tree peach bears so little resemblance to a peach you buy in the store the store peaches might as well be made of plastic. Halve a ripe peach in two with your thumbs and the skin bursts open and the juice squirts stickily over your knuckles. The flesh of a tree peach is *peach*-colored, not yellow. It doesn’t feel grainy or mealy or gritty in the mouth — its thick and sweet and it tastes like summertime, like staying out late and catching crickets in a jar and running barefoot across the lawn.

I think maybe the tree can stay.